Poll of the Week: Lunch

We’ll talk later in the week about food, culture, and books, but for now, let’s get straight to the poll:

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Is the term Indian Summer racist?

It’s been an odd summer, weather-wise: roasting in April, cool in June and July, and just a few blazing weeks in August before the current chill September. So yesterday I mused, are we going to get an Indian summer?

And then I stopped thinking about the weather itself and started thinking about the term “Indian summer.” I had no idea where the term came from. The surface meaning—an unusually warm period between the leaves changing and the first snow—is harmless, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the origin of the term was racist.

Wikipedia gives three theories of the term’s etymology:

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Stuff That Steams My Clams

I was reading an article about women’s roles in the United States military and was surprised to learn that regulations still prohibit women from serving in combat. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have blurred the lines of warfare to such a degree that women have found themselves, despite the rules that forbid it, fighting alongside men for the first time. The women have proven themselves to be tenacious soldiers and they have earned many medals of valor.

Ad spotted on Madison Avenue
Ad spotted on Madison Avenue

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Writers, Send Us Your Manuscripts!

The submission deadline is fast approaching for Lee & Low Books’ tenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD.

Manuscripts will be accepted through September 30, 2009, and must be postmarked within that period. You can find full submission guidelines here.

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Humorous and Stirring

Storm King Wall by Andy Goldsworthy
Storm King Wall by Andy Goldsworthy

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Exploring Kenya with Lynne Barasch

“I love the freedom of writing fiction. Still, to be believable, fiction has to be grounded in some reality.”

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What Is “Normal” Reading?

I was recently skimming the New York Times, as I am wont to do, and stumbled across this post: “What Is ‘Normal’ Eating?” The poster rightly points out that eating normal means different things to different people. Whenever our office goes out for a company lunch, a certain subset of the office gets large portions of red meat with a starchy accompaniment; others of us order whatever has no meat but lots of cheese; others go in for the simple, healthy options. Each of us is getting a dressed-up version of our normal.

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When good books go bad

A few nights ago I was having dinner with a friend who doesn’t work in publishing, and I was talking about how I think librarians are really great and I’m always impressed by the thoughtful ways in which they grapple with some truly tough issues.

“Er…like what?” he asked.

So I gave him this example from the NY Times about the Brooklyn Public Library’s recent decision to basically quarantine Tintin au Congo, a 70-year-old picture book with some pretty racist cartoons:

Tintin teaches the natives about the Belgian colonizers
Tintin teaches the "natives" about the Belgian colonizers

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We have a suggestion…

This image has been making the rounds lately:

Click for a larger image. If you can’t read it, it says (grammar and capitalization intact): “was just thinking. my sister does -alot- of reading, and spends like $1000 a year on just books alone. most of them she reads once and never looks at again. is there some kind of like…video rental store but for books? would make things alot cheaper, plus once one person has read one the next person could get enjoyment from it etc.”

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Remembering Armando

The theme of the week is back to school. When we acquired, Armando and the Blue Tarp School in 2006, it was one of those moments when you are simply in awe of certain individuals and the good work they do in the world.

Armando and the Blue Tarp
Armando and the Blue Tarp

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Exploring Children's Books Through the Lens of Diversity